Australia’s head coach Justin Langer said on Monday he feels “warm and fuzzy” knowing that Steve Smith is determined to return to international cricket and added that the team can’t wait to have their former skipper back.
While revealing he had personally spoken to Smith, Langer heaped praise on the right-handed batsman, calling him the Virat Kohli of Australian cricket. Notably, Smith along with former vice-captain, David Warner were handed one-year-long bans by Cricket Australia in March for their involvement in ball tampering during a Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Langer’s comment comes after Smith addressed the media on Friday, breaking the silence he had maintained since the emotional press conference upon return from South Africa following the ball-tampering scandal that brought disrepute to Australian cricket.
Steve Smith, who was regarded as one of the best going around, insisted that he is in a happy frame of mind and that all his focus is on preparing for next year’s World Cup and the Ashes. Even as his international and domestic bans expire on March 29, 2019, Smith has kept himself busy, playing T20 leagues and Sydney Grade cricket with Sutherland.
“I have spoken to him [Smith]. That’s much more important to me than what I read in the press – that’s with absolute respect – because I hear it straight from the horse’s mouth,” Langer said, as quoted by Sydney Morning Herald.
“I think he’s in a very determined place. Obviously, it’s been a really tough time for him. But we can’t wait to see – can’t wait to have him back. [I am] really looking forward to this – he’s [the] Virat Kohli of the Australian cricket team. That’s the truth of it. He’s an outstanding player, he’s been our captain. He’s a fantastic young bloke.
“I know how determined he is to get back and play for Australia. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy, knowing Steve Smith is determined.”
‘Warner would be training like Rocky Balboa’
Langer added that the banned trio of Smith, Warner, and Cameron Bancroft is eager to get back to playing international cricket. He also shed light on Warner’s eagerness, saying the left-handed opener would be training like “Rocky Balboa” at the moment.
Both Smith and Warner were scoring the bulk of Australia’s runs before they were handed what is being seen as harsh punishments by Cricket Australia. The two batsmen had nearly scored 40% of the team’s total runs during their 2-0 win over India in a four-Test series in 2014-15.
The current Australian team, under Tim Paine, are certainly depleted without two of their best batsmen.
“I know Davey Warner is the same. Davey Warner would be training like Rocky Balboa at the moment. They’re very determined to get back into the Australian cricket team. There’s a process. Obviously, it’s going to happen in the next little bit but it’s a pretty exciting time I think,” Langer added.
Both Smith and Warner are expected to be part of Australia’s World Cup squad. However, Langer shed light on the possibility of getting the duo back for the ODI series against Pakistan, which is likely to be played between March and April 2019.
“We’ll get the best outcome for Australian cricket, for them [Smith and Warner] personally. We’ll work through that but there’s certainly been no decisions,” Langer added.
News credit : indiatoday